Category Archives: Virtual Learning

HISD teachers kick off classroom lessons virtually for 2020-2021 school year

Roberts Elementary School fourth-grade teacher LaTasha Owens’ first social studies lesson of the new school year included an educational video about the three branches of government, shared on Microsoft Teams.

Owens called on students to share their thoughts about what they were watching. The children appeared onscreen as they unmuted themselves. Each was accessing the class from a private residence, some of them wearing headphones and some of them sitting in large office chairs.

This example of leveraging technology to ensure her students learn without jeopardizing the health and safety of all involved was replicated across the district on Tuesday.

Continue reading

Interim Superintendent kicks off first day of virtual learning with districtwide tour

HISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan embarked on a whirlwind tour of the district on Tuesday as hundreds of thousands of students, educators, parents, and staff began the first day of the 2020-2021 school year virtually with a charge to Reconnect Safely and Return Strong.

Lathan spent the day making in-person and virtual visits to campuses and online classrooms to speak with students, parents, and teachers encouraging them as they began, calling the 2020-2021 school year the district’s Year of Flexibility.

“We are very excited for today because March was the last time many of us saw our students,” she said before the start of the districtwide tour. “The first day of school certainly looks different this year, however, I remain optimistic that with continued determination, resilience, and flexibility, 2020-21 can be our best year yet.”

Continue reading

Campuses distribute technology to prepare for first day of virtual learning

In preparation for the upcoming school year, HISD parents began lining up at Northline Elementary School early to receive technology that will help when online classes begin next week.

Lourdes Villafuerte’s daughter Mila, a rising fourth-grader at Northline, received a Chromebook that she is excited to start using. Villafuerte says she’s relieved the district is making technology available to students during this challenging time.

“I really appreciate that they have tried to accommodate as many families as they have,” she said. I am still concerned about schools opening in October, so if we can continue with online learning, we would like to take that approach, and this makes that possible for us.”

Continue reading

HISD’s Camp Spark prepares students, families for virtual learning

Alberto Varona, a rising ninth-grader from DeBakey High School for Health Professions, has dreams of pursuing a career in science, and after one week at HISD’s all-virtual Camp Spark, those dreams are stronger than ever.

“One day, I have dreams of creating medicine that will help people,” he said. “Camp Spark has really encouraged me to pursue those dreams.” 

The two-week camp, which is offered to students in grades pre-K through 12 and provided at no cost, is designed to get students re-engaged as the district prepares for online learning, and provides online lessons that focus on physical fitness, science, literacy, math, internet safety, technology and art.

Continue reading

Welch MS students receive supplies thanks to Karen Johnson Back to School Bash

HISD’s Welch Middle School sparked to life for a few hours on Saturday as parents and students drove through to pick up school supplies during the 13th Annual Karen Johnson Back to School Bash.

This year’s event – hosted by the mother of retired Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson – had to be narrowed down to a Drive Thru Backpack Giveaway in accordance of COVID-19 physical distancing and safety measures. Nevertheless, cars filled with excited parents and students lined up as items were loaded into their trunks.

“Kids need their supplies for school, and some kids might be embarrassed to ask for a pencil, or a pen or a notebook,” Karen Johnson said. “We started in 2007 at Hobby Elementary and now, for the first time, we have partnered with Welch Middle School. So hopefully we will be able to keep this going for years to come.”

Continue reading

Two HISD campuses selected for Microsoft Imagine Academy

Students at HISD’s Edison Middle School and Yates High School will receive innovative technological instruction through the Microsoft Imagine Academy as part of the company’s partnership with the City of Houston to stimulate digital literacy in economically disadvantaged communities.

Edison Middle School and Yates High School students will receive virtual instruction in coding, IT infrastructure, data science, and attend virtual Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) camps. High school students will also receive training in Artificial Intelligence, modern workplace tools and office productivity in preparation for earning certifications.

“This is an incredible opportunity for students at Edison and Yates, who will gain the tools and knowledge they need to close high-tech skills gaps,” HISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan said. “Participating in the Microsoft Imagine Academy has the potential to be a game-changer for our middle and high school students.”

Continue reading

HISD kicks off Camp Spark during live launch event

Surrounded by the bright orange and white colors of the Houston Dynamo, HISD Interim Superintendent Lathan led the unveiling on Tuesday of the district’s first-ever, all-virtual academic enrichment camp.

Camp Spark, which kicks off on Monday, Aug. 24, launched with a live socially distant celebration at Houston’s BBVA Compass Stadium. The virtual camp, which is designed to get students re-engaged as the district prepares for online learning, will provide lessons that focus on physical fitness, science, literacy, math, internet safety, technology and art.

New ninth-graders will take part in a boot camp to prepare them for high school while 10th- through 12th-graders will participate in a College and Career Readiness course.

Continue reading

Project Explore ready to help HISD middle school students Reconnect Safely, Return Strong

Project Explore students attended the Summer Companion Camp at the Houston Humane Society this summer. 

As the 2020-21 school year approaches, HISD’s Project Explore is preparing to meet the needs of students across the district with an array of virtual college and career readiness programs.

Project Explore, which connects middle school students to college and career opportunities, is planning a variety of virtual expeditions to introduce middle school students to the skills needed for secondary, postsecondary, and career success, including virtual college campus visits and advising sessions.  

“The Project Explore team is up for the challenge,” Project Explore Director Mia Bradford said. “Our advisors will continue to offer the most meaningful experiences possible to keep students engaged and forge connections with career and postsecondary professionals.”

Continue reading

HISD Special Populations to offer Parent Labs in August and September

HISD’s Special Populations department will host a series of Parent Labs in August and September to assist parents who have students in any special populations program with navigating virtual learning for the 2020-2021 school year.

The Parent Labs will proactively engage and support parents with programs such as autism, dyslexia, speech/language, 504, intellectually disabled, and gifted & talented. There will be up to 20 sessions available by disability area or special population group and will be accessible via live or recorded formats. There also will be sessions available in Spanish.

“As we embark on a school year like no other, we know that extra supports for parents and students are vital as we navigate a more virtual approach to learning,” said HISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan. “These live interactive sessions are designed to inform, engage and empower our HISD parent community for the coming school year.”

Continue reading

HISD Board approves $54.6 million budget amendment to help students Reconnect Safely, Return Strong

The Houston Independent School District Board of Education approved a $54.6 million amendment to the 2020-2021 budget, which includes a $31 million purchase of devices and wireless hotspots to help close the digital divide and ensure students are equipped to Reconnect Safely and Return Strong when classes resume virtually on Sept. 8.

The district has provided 76,362 devices for students in need since the pandemic and plans to distribute 22,750 additional devices by next month. HISD has provided 6,628 hotspots for students in need and plans to distribute an additional 19,151 of the wireless devices by next month as well.

The added appropriations in the budget amendment will also fund additional special education positions, personal protective equipment (PPE), social distancing signage, plexiglass dividers, and instructional supports.

Continue reading